Friday, May 16, 2014

Ethan wants to tell you about Playing with Autism

Ethan, recently
A while ago, Ethan wrote a lovely essay for school and I published it here: Ethan takes over my blog today (the world tomorrow).  Ethan loved that I shared his writing with you all, and I promised I'd let him take over my blog again.

Well, it's been two years, but he has once again written a beautiful essay for school (6th grade) and he is happy to have me share it with you here, today.  The assignment was to write a personal essay, and start with the words "I believe":

Playing With Autism
by Ethan

I believe that when you help someone or cheer them up, it makes you feel good. That is what I do with my twin brother Jacob, who has autism. Autism means his mind works differently, especially around words. It’s not really like having a twin. He is more like a little brother, even though he is bigger than me.

Play fighting is my brother’s favorite game. His favorite place to play fight is in my bed. To him, a play fight is actually reenacting part of his favorite tv show, Dragonball Z-Kai. In mid-fight Jacob started quoting an episode from the show. Then he started making weird motions with his body then got right back into the fight.

Jacob doesn’t know his own strength. I had to tell him to go easy, when he hit me so hard I could see the whole Milky Way spinning around my head!

It isn’t easy having a brother so strong, who acts so young. It’s like playing with Superman. He kept asking me to smack him harder, but I can’t stand striking him. I did it anyway. He’s not made of ceramic, after all.

During one of our battles, I ended up riding on his back like a cowboy busting a bronco, tearing through the entire house. I got pretty good at it. Maybe I should take riding lessons on a dude ranch.

Jacob needs me to play with him because he doesn’t really have any other friends. There is one girl from his school that plays on his special needs basketball and baseball teams, and sometimes they go to the movies on weekends, but that’s it.

Jacob says “Ethan, you’re my best friend!” and that makes me sad. I have lots of friends who come over to my house and we do all kinds of things together, but Jacob just has me. Jacob knows the names of all my friends and is always asking for them to come over. Most of the time they ignore him, but some of them will be nice and try to play with him a little, or answer some of his funny questions like “Who is your favorite engine?"

He is always asking me to play with him. “Play with me, Ethan. Play with me, now!” Sometimes I feel like it, but a lot of times I really don’t. When I say “no” he keeps talking to me. “Hi, Ethan” he will say, over and over again, even though we’re still in the same room. So I put down my book and play with him for five minutes.

When Jacob is grinning like a hyena, he looks so happy and I feel great. It is like his joy flows right into me. When I see him happy or just cute it makes me the happiest man on earth. Cheering him up cheers me up. There is only one thing better than seeing my brother, Jacob, happy, and that is making him happy.


Pretty heady stuff for an 11 and a 1/2 year old, no?

Also, in the name of full disclosure, I have to tell you that this is written from, shall we say, Ethan's best, most idealized self.  There are still plenty of "I wish I didn't have a brother" days, but there IS this kindness and empathy too, all mixed in.

Thank you, Ethan, my lovely son, for your wise and loving contribution to my blog today. I can't wait to see what you will come up with next!


  1. Ethan is getting to be quite the erudite young man! And I am impressed by his positive attitude and empathy for his brother, even when it is tough sometimes. Well done, and well written.

  2. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. What a great writer he is! That was really nicely done (and moving).

  3. Lovely words from a very smart boy. So wonderful that he takes the time to connect with his brother.

  4. Years ago I dated a guy who was responsible for his younger brother and always would be, it was part of who he was. Once someone said something that called his brother a burden, but my friend turned to the guy and said, taking care of my brother gives my joy, it makes me feel great and it is the opposite of a burden. Of course it wasn't easy, as the aged, but I always remember what he said: it was a joy. Reading your son's words reminded me of them.

  5. I'm sure as Ethan (and Jacob grow), Ethan will remain Jacob's friend, and he'll also become his advocate. It's lucky that they have each other - and luckier still that Ethan finds joy in making his brother happy.

  6. Thanks for sharing your essay, Ethan. Keep writing about your best self, that way you'll discover and become the person you want to be.

  7. Yes, thank you for sharing Ethan! I especially loved your description of rough housing together, how it can feel "like playing with Superman".. really evocative! I could imagine being there in the room with you. Well done! I look forward to you sharing more of your thoughts and feelings here on your mom's blog from time to time.

  8. I often think about how raising spectrum kids, and special needs kids, has changed me. But I think less about how it has changed my NT kids. What a beautiful essay. Thank you so much for sharing it!

  9. I don't know how I missed this last year. It's beautiful. Ethan is a special brother indeed.


I am so sorry to have to turn word verification back on, but the spam-bots have found me - yikes!